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Mayfair Looking to Make History, Win State Football Championship

Mayfair Looking to Make History, Win State Football Championship

Senior running back and linebacker Ryan Heredia (9) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

12/6/2023

Updated: 12/21/2023

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Like at pretty much every high school across the United States, the Mayfair gymnasium in Lakewood, California features banners that celebrate various athletic exploits.
However, the only one at Mayfair that marks a state championship is courtesy of an individual, Allen Kennett, who won a CIF wrestling crown at 215 pounds in 2001.
No team in the school’s 64-year history has laid claim to a state title, but that could change when the Monsoons take on Marin Catholic of Kentfield at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 in the CIF Division 3-A state championship bowl game at El Camino College in Torrance.
“To put a banner up there that says, ‘CIF state champions’ would be something that these kids could live on for the rest of their lives,” Mayfair Coach Derek Bedell told The Epoch Times. “That would be truly monumental for us.”
The Monsoons gained the opportunity by dispatching Mount Miguel of Spring Valley 52–21 in last week’s Southern California regional final on their home turf at Bellflower High.
Mayfair, the Southern Section Division 7 champion, used rapid-fire tempo to score touchdowns on five consecutive first-half possessions after having fallen behind 7–0, and then forced three second-half turnovers to overwhelm its opponent from the San Diego Section.
“That’s just how it worked out, but obviously offense is going to complement the defense, and defense, they’re going to complement the offense,” senior running back and linebacker Ryan Heredia told The Epoch Times. “We just have to keep picking each other up.”
Mayfair High School football coach Derek Bedell greets a player in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Mayfair High School football coach Derek Bedell greets a player in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Senior running back and linebacker Ryan Heredia (9) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Senior running back and linebacker Ryan Heredia (9) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

While the Monsoons have only 12 seniors, and just five who are “every-down contributors,” there are plenty of returnees who were part of last year’s team that dropped a 33–28 decision to Golden Valley of Santa Clarita in the Southern Section Division 7 semifinals.
“We had a tough loss last year on this field,” Mr. Bedell said. “We have a bunch of guys who didn’t want to be in that situation again. We spent a lot of time teaching our players how to be leaders, how to be accountable, but not accountable to me or the rest of the coaches – accountable to their teammates. And that has created a bond that really is special. It shows in the way we play right now.”
Mayfair, which will take a six-game winning streak and a 12–3 record into the state-title matchup against Marin Catholic (13–1), captured this season’s section championship with a 31–28 victory at El Dorado of Placentia on Nov. 25. Now they’re shooting for the ultimate prize.
“We had a feeling that we were going to be a good team,” junior running back and linebacker Louis Johnson told The Epoch Times. “Everybody believed in how the season would go. I feel like we can make history, win this game, win state, be the first. Let’s do it.”
Johnson and Heredia rushed for two touchdowns apiece in the victory over Mount Miguel, while junior quarterback Jeremiah Calvin ran for another score and threw two touchdown passes, a 26-yard strike to sophomore Aidan Sullivan and a 25-yarder to senior Sean James Jonas.
Junior running back and linebacker Louis Johnson (6) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior running back and linebacker Louis Johnson (6) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior quarterback Jeremiah Calvin (17) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior quarterback Jeremiah Calvin (17) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

The big plays on defense began with a first-quarter fumble recovery by senior Marcell Kemp. But it was in the second half that the Mayfair defense seized center stage. Sophomore Chaz Gilbreath came up with a huge interception, his fourth this season, to halt a Mount Miguel drive after the Matadors had scored twice to pull within 35–21. Later, junior Devon Daniel pounced on a fumble and junior Justyn Smith added a pick.
“Even through the ups and downs, we still make it through,” Smith told The Epoch Times. “We’re getting better and better as we go. We’ve had a whole bunch of ups and downs, but we just pushed through.”
To hear Athletic Director Dennis Guerra tell it, Mayfair might have benefited from a very special ingredient in dealing with setbacks such as a season-opening defeat at Huntington Beach and Gateway League losses to Warren of Downey and Downey.
“In my experience with the team, I know a lot of them individually, but as I watch them, they like each other,” Mr. Guerra told The Epoch Times. “They like playing for each other. And I think in years past, we’ve had really good teams and they liked each other, but it’s a different connection, a different chemistry this year.”
Belief, resilience, and focus are the factors cited by Mr. Bedell as keys to the Monsoons’ success.
“For being a really young team, we are very old, in terms of maturity,” he said. “I probably am most proud of our coaches for building that. They’ve done a great job, and the players, too. They’re the ones that have worked so hard every day, in the classroom, on the practice field, in the meeting room, in the weight room, in the training room. To see them smile holding a state trophy would be incredible, but we have to prepare for a good football team. Hopefully dreams come true.”
Junior Justyn Smith (19) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior Justyn Smith (19) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior Justyn Smith (19) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

Junior Justyn Smith (19) plays for Mayfair High School in a recent football game. (Courtesy of Ted Meyers)

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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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